The Norman Transcript

Sports

July 19, 2013

Franklin says he’s in good shape at Vandy

HOOVER, Ala. — Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has had so much success in his first two seasons it is easy to wonder why the highly regarded 41-year-old hasn’t left Nashville for a bigger job.

Franklin’s reasoning: He is in a too good of a situation.

“I think more than anything you see a commitment at Vanderbilt right now,” Franklin said. “Not only from the head coach and the players, but from the administration and the boosters and the fan base and everybody else, probably more so than it’s ever been at Vanderbilt. To me, that’s exciting.”

It’s hard to argue with the results. The Commodores — historically an also-ran in the SEC — have been to two straight bowl games and are coming off a 9-4 season. It was Vanderbilt’s best record since 1915.

“As a freshman to be 2-10, bottom of the SEC to where we are now and to know that I’m going to have another year with these guys is crazy and is really exciting,” Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews said.

The respect Vanderbilt received in Thursday’s preseason media poll is another example of how far the program has come. The Commodores were ranked fourth out of seven teams in the Eastern Division. Matthews earned preseason first-team All-SEC honors after catching 94 passes for a team-record 1,343 yards last season.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior from Madison, Ala., will have to catch passes from a different quarterback this season after the departure of Jordan Rodgers.

Franklin said senior Austyn Carta-Samuels has “distanced himself from the pack” in the competition for the starting job.

The Commodores will have a tough test in their opening game when they face Mississippi in Nashville during a Thursday night game on Aug. 29. Franklin and Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze are friendly and both have drastically improved their respective programs.

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